How To Manage Lupus

From changing lifestyle to eating healthy and exercising regularly, the symptoms of lupus can be managed easily.

By URLife Team
23 May 2023

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, is a condition where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. It is often referred to as a silent ailment because its symptoms can be unpredictable and vary widely from person to person. Lupus can have profound impacts on the body, affecting multiple systems and causing a range of symptoms. The prevalence of lupus in India is quite low. Approximately 3 persons are affected by lupus among every 100,000 individuals in India. Although the numbers are low, it is still important to know the causes, treatment, management and ways to lead a near-normal life.


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Causes of Lupus

A combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors plays a role in the development of lupus. Here are some key factors associated with the development of lupus

  • Genetic Factors: Certain genetic variations can contribute to an increased susceptibility to lupus. People with a family history of lupus or other autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop the condition. However, having these genetic factors alone is not sufficient to cause lupus, as other triggers are also needed.
  • Hormonal Factors: Lupus is more common in women, suggesting a link between hormonal factors and the disease. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can influence the onset or severity of lupus symptoms. It is believed that estrogen, a female hormone, may have an impact on the immune system and contribute to the development of lupus.
  • Environmental Triggers: Various environmental factors can trigger lupus in susceptible individuals. Some common triggers include exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from sunlight or artificial sources, certain infections, certain medications (such as hydralazine or procainamide), and physical or emotional stress. These triggers can activate the immune system and lead to inflammation and the development of lupus symptoms.
  • Immune System Dysfunction: In lupus, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the body's own healthy tissues and organs. This dysfunction in the immune system is thought to be a major factor in the development of lupus. It is not yet fully understood why the immune system malfunctions in this way, but it may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


Body parts affected by lupus

  • Joints and Muscles: Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are common in lupus. It can affect multiple joints and often resembles arthritis. Muscle aches and weakness may also be present.
  • Skin: Many people with lupus experience skin problems. One of the most characteristic skin manifestations is a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose. Other skin issues include photosensitivity (increased sensitivity to sunlight), skin lesions, hair loss, and Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers or toes turning white or blue in response to cold or stress).
  • Kidneys: Lupus can cause inflammation in the kidneys, leading to lupus nephritis. This condition can result in impaired kidney function and may require medical intervention to prevent long-term damage.
  • Heart and Lungs: Inflammation can affect the heart and lungs, causing complications such as pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart), pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs), or inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis).
  • Blood: Lupus can affect blood cells, leading to anemia (low red blood cell count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count), or thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). These conditions can cause fatigue, increased susceptibility to infections, and problems with blood clotting.
  • Nervous System: Lupus can impact the nervous system, leading to symptoms like headaches, cognitive difficulties (brain fog), memory problems, seizures, or peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, or weakness in the limbs).


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Treatment of lupus

While there is no cure for lupus, treatment aims to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent flare-ups. The treatment plan is often tailored to each individual's specific needs and may involve the following approaches:

1. Medications: Depending on the symptoms and severity, various medications may be prescribed. These can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and immune response, and immunosuppressants to suppress the overactive immune system.

2. Lifestyle Changes: Making healthy lifestyle choices can play a significant role in managing lupus. This includes getting enough restful sleep, managing stress through techniques like relaxation exercises or therapy, and regular exercise. A balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can also support overall well-being.

3. Sun Protection: Since sun exposure can trigger lupus flare-ups, it's essential to protect the skin from UV rays. This includes wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen with a high SPF, and avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours.

4. Regular Medical Care: Regular check-ups with doctors who specialise in treating lupus, such as rheumatologists, are important for monitoring the disease's progression, adjusting treatment plans, and addressing any concerns.

5. Support and Education: Joining support groups or connecting with others living with lupus can provide valuable emotional support and help in navigating the challenges of the condition. Education about lupus, its symptoms, and self-care strategies can empower individuals to actively participate in their own treatment and management.


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Diagnosis of lupus

Diagnosing lupus can be challenging because its symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, and it can affect individuals differently. However, doctors typically use a combination of clinical symptoms, physical examinations, laboratory tests, and medical history to help diagnose lupus.

1. Medical history and physical examination: The doctor will review your medical history, ask about your symptoms, and conduct a physical examination to look for signs of lupus, such as a facial rash (butterfly rash), joint swelling, or mouth ulcers.

2. Blood tests: Blood tests are often used to evaluate certain antibodies and other substances in the blood that are commonly associated with lupus. These tests may include:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test: This test looks for the presence of autoantibodies that attack the nuclei of cells, which is commonly found in people with lupus.
  • Anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody test: This test measures antibodies that specifically target double-stranded DNA, which are often elevated in lupus.
  • Complete blood count (CBC): This test assesses the levels of various blood cells and can help identify abnormalities often seen in lupus, such as low red blood cell count (anaemia) or low platelet count (thrombocytopenia).
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP): These tests measure inflammation levels in the body, which can be elevated in lupus.
  • Kidney and liver function tests: These tests evaluate how well the kidneys and liver are functioning and may detect any abnormalities caused by lupus.

3. Additional tests: Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may order additional tests to assess organ involvement or rule out other conditions. These may include urine tests, imaging studies (e.g., X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI)


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Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have lupus. Taking regular health checks can help detect lupus at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.


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